Now THIS is a good circus.In any event, the levels are generally designed well, with only a few rough spots, most notably in the circus levels. Yes, “Psycho Circus” lives up to its name, and the last few levels of each realm take place in some sort of perverted carnival. The circus levels in each episode are consistently the most annoying, with horrendously garish yellow and red wall textures and lots of cages and tents. If you’ve ever been to a circus, your first thought probably wasn’t what a cool FPS level it would make; unfortunately, that’s more or less what the final levels of each episode are like.

The bosses at the end of each episode all reside in the heart of the circus inside a giant tent, perhaps with some pillars or crates sitting around to break the monotony a little. Keeping with the game’s theme, the bosses include a giant inflating clown, a guy on stilts, a ringmaster of some sort, and a big minotaur-type thing which apparently was thrown in when the development team ran out of ideas. The bosses can be quite difficult, especially on the higher skill levels, and the challenge is augmented by the addition that you are unable to save while fighting them. I happen to like this restriction, meaning that people can’t just quicksave and quickload every two seconds, but it is still horribly frustrating when you have a boss down to his last few hit points and accidentally blow yourself up.

Not buying this game because you hate KISS makes about as much sense as not buying Daikatana because you hate black men named Superfly. OK, that’s a bad analogy, but to deny yourself this kickass game due to a godawful license would be a giant mistake. Despite its shortcomings, KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child is one of the best pure-action first-person shooters released in years, perhaps even the best at what it does since Doom. If you’re a snooty I-can’t-live-without-a-plot gamer who absolutely must have depth in his gaming, look elsewhere, so you won’t see it coming when I punch you in the back of the head. However, if you’re looking for a quick-fix game that lets you hop in and destroy a few thousand bad guys without much thought about a story, this game is right up your alley. I swore to myself that I would never say this, but KISS rocks.

Graphics:6
Gameplay:9
Replay:7
Sound:5
Fun:10
Overall:37

Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible 10 score (-10 being the worst, 10 being the best). The overall score is based out of a possible 50 score (-50 being the worst, 50 being the best).

– Andrew Stine (@lowtax)

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